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Comments

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Will the Google Car Turn Out To Be the Apple Newton of Automobiles?

DrXym Re:Driving is filled with intractible problems (287 comments)

Smarter people than you have been working on these problems for years already and have made significant progress.

Yes at doing basic navigation. There are far too many intractable problems remaining to think self drive is remotely useful on open roads. They will fail over to the driver or stop dead so often as to be annoying. I should also note your "smarter people" can't even do basic speech recognition on a phone with sufficient accuracy to make it work well. What makes you think a far more complex problem is somehow within their grasp?

The good thing about computers is that they can be programmed to fail gracefully

Which would be great if they only fail gracefully in a critical situation such as a potential collision. If they "fail gracefully" because they're confused by the plastic bag blowing across the street, or the lights being out, or by the large puddle ahead, or the cop telling them to proceed, or leaves / ice / snow obscuring a sensor, or by any car in front of my car which decides to fail gracefully then they'll suck.

It is not sufficient to fail to safe. Cars must make good progress too for the occupant and occupants of all the other cars behind. This is why all the puffery about how many miles Google cars have driven without accidents is only a fraction of the story. Yeah it's great they haven't killed anybody. It's a significant achievement. If such vehicles just stop for no reason at all (and they will) then they will suck and they will suck hard.

2 days ago
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Will the Google Car Turn Out To Be the Apple Newton of Automobiles?

DrXym Re:How hard is it to recognize a stoplight? (287 comments)

But it can still drive on other roads with good accuracy.

The lights are out at a junction. How does "good accuracy" help the car figure out when it's safe to proceed, or the order to proceed when there are buses, cars, trucks coming from all direction with an implied priority based on conditions and time people have waited?

Now a cop turns up to direct the traffic because of a fender bender. How does the car with "good accuracy" know to obey the cop's hand signals?

Now the repair crew turn up to fix the lights and put cones out so people turning have to do so from the adjacent lane. How does "good accuracy" cope with that?

Now a crazy person turns up and begins directing traffic. How does "good accuracy" tell the difference between the cop and the crazy person.

That's just a trivial demonstration of the problems a self drive vehicle would face. It's trivial to think of others - road flooding, narrow roads, diversions, vehicle break downs, animals running out, snow / leaves obstructing sensors etc. Of course in every case the simplest answer would be for the driver to override the car and manually drive it. But that naturally puts a dampener on some of the absurd expectations people have for these vehicles (e.g. that they can drive off and park themselves, self drive taxis, sleeping or drunk drivers etc.). And if the car gets confused too often or "fails to safe" for no reason then it will be infuriating.

It would be far more productive to concentrate on advanced driver assistance - cruise control, distance maintenance, lane tracking / marker detection, collision / hazard avoidance and parking assistance.

about a week ago
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Will the Google Car Turn Out To Be the Apple Newton of Automobiles?

DrXym Driving is filled with intractible problems (287 comments)

Anyone who thinks self drive is coming to a vehicle near them soon is living in cloud cuckoo land.

Self drive cars might work on a closed track where the number of external factors are limited and can be controlled. e.g. an airport loop, or a theme park transfer. It might even work on some stretches of public road e.g. some motorways although it is more likely to be an advanced driver assist mode.

It sure as hell wouldn't work in urban settings, or for atypical conditions. It's trivial to think of scenarios that would boggle the mind of a computer and cause it to stop for no good reason, or get itself stuck, or do entirely the wrong thing. e.g. in following a traffic cop's directions. At the very least such vehicles would have to have a conscious, unimpaired driver at the wheel ready to take over at a moment's notice and chances are that self drive would suck so hard that most people leave it turned off or in some reduced mode such as hazard / collision detection, cruise control etc.

about a week ago
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GNU Emacs 24.4 Released Today

DrXym Times have changed (156 comments)

I expect the predominant use pattern for editors (in a console) is to be fired up to quickly to edit a file, save and exit, e.g. to commit files in source control. Longer term activity has moved out to the desktop and editors / IDEs running there - the likes of Eclipse, Notepad++, Sublime Text, Gedit etc.

So I wouldn't be surprised if emacs does lose out to lighter rival editors that better suit the quick-fix pattern. All the power and flexibility and add ons that emacs has built up (and which weigh it down) are largely redundant on a modern desktop. I think I would prefer nano or joe to vi/vim (and its annoying split personality modes) but the latter tends to be ubquitous so its a good idea to learn it.

about two weeks ago
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Doctor Who To Teach Kids To Code

DrXym Code.org (164 comments)

The code.org site is a great resource for teaching kids to program. Personally I'd have liked to see the BBC contribute their project to that where it would likely enjoy a lot more popularity.

about two weeks ago
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Four Dutch Uberpop Taxi Drivers Arrested, Fined

DrXym Re:Standards, my ass. (282 comments)

The worst Uber car I've ever been in was cleaner, newer, and driven by a more pleasant and friendly driver than the best taxi I've ever been in.

Wow your anecdote changes everything. Aside from the cleanliness I'm sure you made sure to check the car & driver's insurance covered you in case of an accident. And that the vehicle road safety certification was in order. And that the driver had no past criminal convictions. No?

about two weeks ago
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"Double Irish" Tax Loophole Used By US Companies To Be Closed

DrXym Re:Transition period? (259 comments)

They're not parking their billions there. They're funnelling money through Irish registered companies which are domiciled in places like the Cayman islands. Ireland might make some money but it doesn't get much out of it. Ireland is changing the rules so that Irish registered companies must be domiciled in Ireland and therefore liable to Irish corporate taxes.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Develops Analog Keyboard For Wearables, Solves Small Display Dilemma

DrXym Re:Great (100 comments)

I doubt the patent covering this stuff has long to run.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Develops Analog Keyboard For Wearables, Solves Small Display Dilemma

DrXym Re:Great "invention" (100 comments)

LOL Microsoft developed an analog keyboard. OR they just remembered how their palm pilots worked and ported it to android..

To be fair to Microsoft, they did have handwriting recognition in PocketPC devices too - several modes in fact from simple Palm-like chars, to handwriting and a keyboard. That said I found my Palm Pilot's system to be very reliable once I learned all the funny strokes for each letter. PocketPC was always hit and miss and I used the keyboard mode the most.

It seems pretty obvious to do something like this in a watch and I guess it's better than nothing but it highlights why smart watches have such a long way to go to be useful for much.

about two weeks ago
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Four Dutch Uberpop Taxi Drivers Arrested, Fined

DrXym Re:News at 11. (282 comments)

It's not legal just because you saw it on the internet.

There are plenty of apps which will hail a licenced cab, e.g. Hailo. It's the car and driver that matter and not the manner in which they were dispatched.

about two weeks ago
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Four Dutch Uberpop Taxi Drivers Arrested, Fined

DrXym Re:I'm sorry (282 comments)

It is a bloody insult that you need a permit to drive someone from A to B *IN YOUR OWN PROPERTY*.

Thing is, a taxi is usually treated as a form of public transport. The standard that you the driver and your vehicle are held is consequently that much higher. That's why the regulation exists.

It's bizarre that you conflate the issue with how much tax someone might pay on their wages.

about two weeks ago
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Four Dutch Uberpop Taxi Drivers Arrested, Fined

DrXym Bullying? (282 comments)

Operating a taxi in most of Europe requires a taxi licence, a criminal background check, a "knowledge" test plus additional road safety requirements for driver & car. Uber is not exempt from this and if drivers don't meet the requirements they're going to be treated like any other unlicenced driver and fined. Sucks to be them but its not bullying. These laws existed before Uber turned up and if the company and their drivers didn't bother to do the due diligence then whose fault is it when they run afoul of them?

about two weeks ago
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Feces-Filled Capsules Treat Bacterial Infection

DrXym I don't believe them (135 comments)

I bet you could stick them up your arse for all the good they'd do you.

about two weeks ago
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Lego Ends Shell Partnership Under Greenpeace Pressure

DrXym Re:They backed Greenpeace, actually. (252 comments)

Well they could dip a few seabirds in crude oil and then clean them up again.

about three weeks ago
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Lego Ends Shell Partnership Under Greenpeace Pressure

DrXym Re:Pixie Dust (252 comments)

Perhaps these luxury yacht owners like getting from A to B in the fastest time and the sails are just an emergency precaution in case the engine packs in.

It looks like Greenpeace has different priorities - the sails mean they can turn off their engines to save fuel, extend their operational range and it naturally fits with their image. Looks like a really cool boat.

about three weeks ago
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Lego Ends Shell Partnership Under Greenpeace Pressure

DrXym Re:Pixie Dust (252 comments)

Biodiesel can be made by recycling vegetable oil from fryers. It has to be filtered and blended with alcohol. Presumably Greenpeace could use that if they wished although I expect pragmatism and the reality of operating a boat out of many ports means they have to take what's available.

about three weeks ago
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David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

DrXym Re:Pandering (942 comments)

Except it doesn't have 250,000 immigrants a year. That is a lie. The actual figure is approximately 24,000. So the "problem" is merely 1/10th of the amount you claim. Secondly, the UK already has border controls and it has the capability of stopping immigrants at those borders whether it is in the EU or not.

And yes UKIP is a far right party and it is racist. It's a party with a long record of racist and far right incidents and even its own leader has a record stretching back to school. One well documented incident has teachers writing a complaint to the head about Farage's racist behaviour and singing of Hitler Youth songs. If this were any other politician they would be drummed out of office. UKIP supporters just pretend it doesn't matter.

about a month ago
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David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

DrXym Re:Pandering (942 comments)

Hopefully it will stay that way. Of course the conservatives might get so scared of losing that they do something incredibly foolish such as ally with UKIP or come to an agreement where they don't contest certain seats to ensure the other one wins. Of course that might mean they lose voters from the centre who would be horrified by the prospect of UKIP getting anywhere near the reins of power.

about a month ago
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David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

DrXym Re:Scotland (942 comments)

Scotland will probably stop the madness. It's a stronghold for the Labour party and will contribute to its majority at the next election.

about a month ago
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David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

DrXym Re:Idiot (942 comments)

I don't agree with his policies or his party ideology either, but I think it is incorrect to call him an idiot. He knows very well what he is doing, and I think he is leading the country competently, in the sense that he is not blundering around stupidly and making the overall situation significantly worse for the whole nation.

Cameron has been a competent prime minister. He hasn't screwed up in any major way, the economy has significantly recovered, he's survived the Scottish referendum and the coalition has been successful in moderating his party's reforms. But his party and Clegg's are doomed in the next election.

We keep using imperial in our daily lives because they are easy when you don't need great precision or a deep understanding of the science behind; 1 pound is about the weight of a large handful of something - easy to relate to and precise enough for many purposes.

As generations are born and die, the old system falls out of use and people use the new system instead. I don't see that as a reason to keep on using it when it was gotten rid of for a reason. If I want to approximate something I can always say a litre, or half a kilo, or 50 meters or whatever.

about a month ago

Submissions

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GNOME Shell extensions are live

DrXym DrXym writes  |  more than 2 years ago

DrXym (126579) writes "GNOME Shell has been criticized for certain shortcomings when compared to GNOME 2.x. Chief amongst them was that 2.x offered panel applets whereas 3.x is seemingly lacking any such functionality. What most people don't know is that GNOME Shell has a rich extension framework similar to Mozilla Firefox add-ons and the official site to install extensions has gone live. So if you yearn for an application menu, or a dock, or a status monitor then head on over. Extensions can be installed with a few clicks and removed just as easily.

Someone should offer a prize to the first extension that implements Unity and global menus over GNOME Shell. Perhaps it would convince Ubuntu to switch over and end this spat once and for all."

Link to Original Source
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Warner going Blu Ray exclusive

DrXym DrXym writes  |  more than 6 years ago

DrXym (126579) writes "Engadget are reporting that Warner is going to go Blu-Ray exclusive. Even though I am a Blu-Ray supporter myself this announcement is shocking since it could easily have gone the other way. It drives a stake into the heart of the HD DVD camp and might mean at last that an end is in sight for HD physical format war."
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SCO stock takes a dump

DrXym DrXym writes  |  more than 7 years ago

DrXym (126579) writes "The SCO ball of twine keeps unravelling. Following the total disintegration of their legal case on Friday, SCO's stock took a pounding today falling a whopping 70%. That puts SCOX well and truly into NASDAQ delisting territory, assuming they last the 120 days required to be removed. So long SCO, we hardly knew ye."
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DrXym DrXym writes  |  about 8 years ago

DrXym (126579) writes "Remember that stuff about the PS3 supporting Linux? Well it's true as as this press release from Yellow Dog Linux shows. PS3 owners will be able to install Yellow Dog Linux 5.0 which includes standard Linux apps such as Firefox 1.5.0, OpenOffice 2.0 as standard. Interestingly it also includes a Cell SDK and Enlightenment E17 for the desktop experience. What remains to be seen is whether it plays nice alongside your ability to play games, download stuff, watch movies etc. or is it an all or nothing affair?"

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